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by Mark Zalewski
February 16, 2017
In today’s CyclingTips Daily News Digest: Hermans wins Tour of Oman, stage 2; Valderde wins Ruta Del Sol opener; Gaviria wins first stage of Volta ao Algarve; Riders’ association protests disc brake usage without further safety measures; After a shining Tour performance, Pantano nurturing a big long-term goal; 2017 Paris-Roubaix to feature more cobbles than in 2016; No Cauberg finish for Amstel Gold Race in 2017; 2017 Women’s Tour to finish in London; Inga Thompson returning to cycling to advocate for the women’s peloton; Shane Perkins to race with Russia in bid for Tokyo 2020; Successful surgery for Chris Butler; Abu Dhabi Tour announces provisional start list; ‘One More Brew’ Garburn Winter Cyclocross.
Coming off a win on the weekend at the Vuelta a Murcia, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) took his second win in four days on the opening stage of the Ruta Del Sol in the Andalucía region of Spain. The Spaniard won ahead of Team Sky’s Wout Poels and Sebastian Reichenbach out of a six-rider group that also included Trek-Segafredo’s Alberto Contador and Ion Izagirre (Bahrain Merida).
The racing featured a tough course with multiple climbs. The main breakaway was caught with more than 30km remaining and the action heated up when Contador launched an attack, blowing the race apart.
“We knew that Contador would be doing well, and he showed he was willing to fight when his team started to take the reigns of the peloton without asking anyone to help them out,” said Valverde. “He played his cards and really made the difference, yet we defended ourselves well. When we were the two of us alone at the front, it was complicated to keep pushing because his attacks left no room to breathe. Plus, there was a group with three Sky riders pulling, which made it difficult to escape.”
Valdverde tried a solo move near the end but relented when it was clear the reduced group was going to catch him. He then waited for the sprint knowing he was the fastest out of the group.
“We couldn’t have started things off in a better way. For the time being, we’ve got a stage win — everything that comes after this is a gift for us,” said Valverde. “GC-wise, we don’t have any real, strict goals. We’re in pole position, yet our rivals are going to be really strong, and the next two stages will change things a lot. The whole route on Thursday is very demanding, finishing off with such a difficult climb. It might be good for my chances, but anyone from those who made the front group today can do well.”